Rotating planters coming to Union Mall


Written by Muleskinner Staff

Senior Writer

Three trees in front of the Elliott Student Union were removed to make way for rotating planters that will feature a different tree for each season.

(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Three trees in front of the Elliott Student Union have been removed, leaving behind a murky pit of mud and water that has since been covered with gravel.
Bradley Mackey, UCM grounds manager, said the trees were extracted in an effort to make the campus more appealing for current and prospective students.
“(The trees) were not in fantastic shape at all,” Mackey said. “They just kept continuing to die.”
Mackey said that the pits for the trees were only 8-10 inches deep, not deep enough for the roots to have room to grow properly. He said some roots were beginning to push up and break the concrete in the surrounding space.
Mackey said new planters that are roughly 4 feet squared will be installed to house a new plant for each of the four seasons. He said plans include red buds for spring, banana trees and other tropical plants for summer, and some type of evergreen for fall and winter.
“This is something we can enhance without spending a lot of money and try to make the area look better,” Mackey said. “Something needed to be done, and honestly has needed to be done for a number of years, in my opinion.”
Mackey said the university will rent a tree from a local producer, display it on campus and then return it after the season so the producer can sell it. He said a future goal for the grounds crew is to grow the trees themselves, display them in the planters and then replant them elsewhere.
“So, we’re not just using a tree for a few months and destroying it,” Mackey said. “Nobody likes to see trees get cut down. I don’t either.”
Chris Bamman, facilities planning and operation director, said the only cost associated with the project would be the purchase of new planter for the tree well, coming in at around $3,900. He said there is not much of an added cost to make these changes, as the reconstruction becomes part of the grounds crews’ daily tasks.
“If they weren’t removing those trees, they would be somewhere else on campus engaging in similar kinds of clean up and regular day-to-day maintenance types of activities,” Bamman said.
Mackey said this fall, five trees were removed from campus because they posed a threat to those walking underneath.
“They were dangerous,” he said. “They were large trees but were either very hollow or the bases of them (were) not good. We don’t want them falling on somebody.”
Mackey said there was one tree in particular the grounds crew were surprised hadn’t already fallen due to the thinness of the tree walls.
“We never take out a tree unless it’s in bad shape or it’s doing damage to something else,” he said. “Trees are a big part of our campus. We do things to try to keep them healthy.”
The Muleskinner previously reported 63 trees on campus received treatment in September 2016 to combat iron deficiencies and Emerald Ash borer bugs. At that time, Mackey told the Muleskinner 38 oak trees had been injected with iron to combat iron deficiency and 25 ash trees were infested with Emerald Ash Borers.
“Everybody on campus always gets upset when they see a tree come down and sometimes they think we just do it for fun and trust me we don’t,” Mackey told the Muleskinner in September. “We don’t like to see them go any more than anybody else. When you have as many trees on campus as we do it’s the nature of the beast.”